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[UPDATE 22-Oct] Godless Bus Shelter Ads: -Guardian article added -

[UPDATE 22-OCT] article from guardian.co.uk

Don't believe in God? Read this

The constitutional rights that guarantee freedom of worship also enable non-theists to reclaim the public forum for freethinking

New advertisements on Washington DC bus stop shelters ask a simple question: "Don't believe in God?" After that gets your attention, they answer it: "Join the club."

More than a figure of speech, this rejoinder is a direct invitation to join one of the dozen local non-theistic groups that have come together as Washington CoR – the Washington DC area Coalition of Reason.

Believers in traditional religion are often shocked at such ads. Since 2008, this message and others like it have been placed on billboards, buses, subway trains and at subway stations in cities across the United States. But the ads don't actually address believers. They address non-believers, in an effort to get them "out of the closet", or at least, to let them know they aren't alone. The goal is to end a conspiracy of silence of sorts, where quietness is next to godlessness, and begin the process of giving non-theistic Americans their place at the table.

But why is this happening now? Well, it actually began in 2004 with the emergence of what the media quickly dubbed the "new atheism". In the wake of that, godless Americans suddenly found themselves in a sweet spot. They were no longer so controversial as to be beyond the pale, yet just controversial enough to be endlessly interesting.

... Read more


Will Be Seen by Crowds at Jon Stewart Rally and Science Expo

These words are part of prominent bus shelter ads near the National Mall in Washington DC that will be visible to pedestrians and drivers on Independence and Constitution Avenues for the next four weeks. Thus they will be seen by those who work in the area as well as visitors attending such Mall events as the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo on October 23 and 24, the dueling rallies of John Stewart and Stephen Colbert on October 30, and the 35th Marine Corps Marathon on October 31 (miles 18 and 19).

The 67"x46" bus shelter ads feature the words superimposed over an image of a blue sky and fluffy clouds. They were placed by the new Washington DC Area Coalition of Reason (Washington CoR) with $7,875 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (United CoR).

Washington CoR is made up of 12 area groups which, according to its website, seek to "enhance the growth, visibility and acceptance of nontheists throughout the metro area" and promote "wider acceptance of a more rational view of the universe and a more compassionate view of those who live in it." A complete list of the participating organizations and friends of the coalition can be found at http://washington.unitedcor.org/node/7 . Members of these groups plan to march under a Coalition of Reason banner at the Jon Stewart rally on October 30.

The Washington DC campaign is also part of a national effort. Already this year there have been similar billboards and bus ads in Austin, Des Moines, Detroit, Louisville, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Tucson, Sacramento, St. Louis, and Seattle. Last year there were United CoR-sponsored billboard, bus, and subway ads in 20 cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Tulsa, Phoenix and San Diego.

"The point of our nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists, agnostics and humanists living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Such individuals sometimes don't realize there's a community for them because they're flooded with traditional religious messages at every turn. So we hope this will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren't alone."

Reaching out to the like-minded isn't the only goal of the effort. "We also want the public to see that there are many humanists, agnostics and atheists living here as part of the community," added Shelley Mountjoy, coordinator of Washington CoR. "We're your friends, neighbors, coworkers and relatives. And like many people, we are leading quality lives: contributing to neighborhood and nation and living our values."

"Being visible is important for us," Edwords concluded, "because atheists and agnostics in our society often don't know many people of like mind. Furthermore, if traditionally religious people can be open about their views, why shouldn't we be open about ours?"
... Read more

TAGGED: ANNOUNCEMENTS, SECULARISM


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